What this means for a REALTOR® who is suspended for not meeting the REALTORS® Ethics Training Requirement is that all the rights, privileges and services she is entitled to receive because she is a REALTOR® are suspended until she satisfies the training requirement. If she meets the requirement the next day, then her rights, privileges and services are restored the next day. While suspended, though, her obligation to abide by the Code of Ethics continues, as does the obligation to pay dues.
At the May 2005 Midyear Meetings of the National Association of REALTORS®, the NAR Board of Directors amended policy to provide that members suspended for failing to meet the REALTORS® ethics training requirement would subsequently be automatically terminated from membership if they did not complete their training.
What are the consequences of membership suspension on MLS access?
Suspension of REALTOR® membership will, in most instances, have no effect on MLS participatory or user/subscriber privileges. Bottom line, only REALTOR® principals who belong to an MLS that requires membership in a local REALTOR® association can have their MLS access cut off for failure to comply with the Code of Ethics Training Requirement.
In general, MLSs are permitted by NAR policy to require MLS participants to belong to the local REALTOR® association that is providing the MLS service. Caselaw in some states (namely, the 11th circuit and California) suggest that MLSs cannot require association membership and so MLSs in those states generally do not have such requirement.
If an MLS requires membership in a local REALTOR® association as a condition of participatory rights in the MLS, then having MLS access terminated is an available sanction for not meeting the Code of Ethics Training Requirement in a timely manner. This outcome makes sense because, if the REALTOR® principal fails to comply with the training requirement altogether, then they can no longer belong to the association and thus cannot prevail themselves of the association’s services.
It’s important to note that the sanction of terminating MLS access for failing to adhere to the Code of Ethics Training Requirement is not appropriate or available for non-principal REALTORS®. REALTOR® non-principals cannot have their MLS access cut off as a condition of their board membership being suspended or terminated. REALTOR® non-principals gain access and use to MLS as a condition of being affiliated with an MLS participant regardless of the non-principal’s individual membership status. We define suspension of membership in the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual as “…suspension of all Board/Association provided membership rights, privileges and services (including those provided by the State and National Association) not available to nonmembers…”
Last, if an MLS does not require REALTOR® participants to belong to the local REALTOR® association that provides the MLS service, then termination of MLS access cannot be a sanction for failing to meet the COE Training Requirements. Because non-member brokers have the ability to participate in the MLS in that situation, then REALTOR® principals cannot be terminated from MLS access because no such sanction would also apply to non-member brokers. In this instance, the REALTOR® principal would lose membership in the local association and would thus need to re-designate its status with the MLS as a non-member (non-REALTOR®) participant.
What happens if a REALTOR® doesn’t meet the training requirement on time?
Failure to meet the requirement is a violation of a membership duty and will result in suspension of membership for the first two months (January and February) of the year following the end of any three (3) year cycle or until the requirement is met, whichever occurs sooner. On March 1 of that year, the membership of a member who is still suspended as of that date will be automatically terminated.
What if a REALTOR® who is a sole proprietor, partner in a partnership, or corporate officer is suspended for non-compliance?
The consequences of suspension of a REALTOR® who is a sole proprietor, partner or corporate officer are established in associations’ bylaws (generally in Article VI) and vary from association to association based on what their bylaws provide. As a general rule, suspension for failing to meet the training requirement will be treated the same as suspension for violating any other membership duty. Some associations’ bylaws require that the membership of all other principals, partners and corporate officers suspends if any one of them is suspended – unless the suspended member severs her relationship with the firm. Other associations permit the other principals, partners and corporate officers to avoid suspension if the suspended member removes herself from any form or degree of management control of the firm. These are choices each local association makes in establishing their bylaws.
What if the REALTOR® who is suspended is not a principal, partner or corporate officer?
Suspension of such an individual has no effect on the membership status of other REALTOR® members of the firm.
How long can a member be suspended for not completing their REALTORS® ethics training?
Failure to meet the requirement for any three-year cycle will result in suspension of membership for the first two months (January and February) of the year following the end of any three (3) year cycle or until the requirement is met, whichever occurs sooner. On March 1 of that year, the membership of a member who is still suspended as of that date will be automatically terminated.